October 31, 2010

HFCS: Holy Crap, Fructose ≠ Sucrose!

So some new study about high fructose corn syrup came out in the journal Obesity, and basically every word that's come out of HFCS's mouth is a lie, including "a," "the," and "is."

Interestingly named nutritionist professor Marion Nestle has the details on her blog at the Atlantic, but here it is in a nutshell:

Fructose is not sucrose, no matter what they say.

The amount of HFCS on the label has #$(*% all to do with the actual amount in the soda. Sometimes it's less, or up to 30% more.

That Mexican Coke you've been paying through the nose for at Costco because it's made with sucrose? Estupido! It's made with fructose. No word on whether the Kosher for Passover Coke is being misrepresented, too, but if it is, at least you know G-d will be keeping score for later.

Study: Corn Syrup Actually Isn't the Same as Table Sugar [theatlantic]

9 Comments

News Flash: Coke isn't good for you!

Argh, my husband just bought the damn Mexican Coke at Costco again yesterday. I've got to get my husband off soda!

fructose sucrose whatever-ose. mexican coke is made with crack-tose.

it's not for me, it's for the kid!

Somebody needs to go to jail for misrepresenting the contents of Mexican Coke like that.

I'd like to know about the recently available Mexican Pepsi (all new bottles designed exclusively for import to the US) and the Pepsi/Mountain Dew Throwback products as well.

I guess the only folks you can really trust are the ones who make Dublin Dr Pepper with real Imperial Cane Sugar, in Dublin, TX. Time for another road trip!

One of the commenters on that Atlantic blog pointed out that the Mexican Coke test results MIGHT be explained by the natural break-down of sucrose in an acidic suspension (Coke has an acidic pH). I'd be curious to hear from any organic chemists out there whether that's a plausible explanation or not, as I have absolutely no clue.

Further, is Mexican Coke really represented as being made with sugar as opposed to HFCS? I know that's what people believe, but I've never bought it so I don't know if it's actually represented that way or if it's just a popular urban legend (and I've never been able to taste any difference between Passover Coke and rest-of-the-year Coke). I believe Coca Cola has always been open about their products being formulated a little differently in different countries, and not just in terms of what kind of sugar they use.

Usually there's a certifying kosher agency that checks the bills of lading and matches it with the correct vat for each ingredient before its even allowed into the factory. I'd assume they know exactly what goes into the kosher for passover coke (just not the exact increments).

1) The bottles of Mexican Coke say "sugar" in the list of ingredients, and do not say anything about corn syrup. Perhaps that's a lie, but given that it tastes different, I'm pretty sure it's made slightly different.

2) High Fructose Corn Syrup isn't "fructose" - it's a mix of Fructose and Glucose. What's Sucrose? Why, it's a compound composed of one Fructose molecule and one Glucose molecule. Yeah, there's a slightly different percentage of fructose (45-52% in HFCS v/s 50% in table sugar), but seriously, the real difference is that HFCS isn't a single molecule; it's a mix of two simple sugars. Well, and HFCS usually has a little bit of Dextrose in it, which really doesn't matter.

In any event, the report I didn't read probably talks about how fructose makes people and animals fat, but forgets to mention that there's only at most a 4% greater amount of fructose in HFCS than sucrose, while some HFCS (the kind in candy bars and whatnot, which is only 45% fructose - hence HFCS-45) actually has *less* fructose than sucrose does.

With that out of the way, I'm sure HFCS acts differently than sucrose does, since HFCS is a liquid containing glucose and fructose, while sucrose is a molecule where the fructose and sucrose are bonded together. Your body doesn't have to break the HFCS down like it does sucrose, so there's probably less energy expended, and then you get fat. Or something.

Learning is cool.

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